Another Celtic saint we read about was Saint Kevin of Glendalough. My husband's middle name is Kevin so it was really important to me to take my family to the monastery Saint Kevin founded hundreds of years ago. The ruins of the monastery are still there today surrounded by the graves of hundreds of people although much of it was destroyed by the English in the 1300's.
We drove to Glendalough from Kildare and as we got closer we saw the landscape change before our eyes to match the descriptions we read about in the book. It was actually quite exciting because I had read the story to my kids many times before we left for Ireland and the scenery was fitting the description in the book. The story tells you that Saint Kevin went to stay in the forest for 40 days in the bottom of a valley where he later founded a monastery. As we're driving, we start seeing the ground around us get higher and higher as mountains start emerging. Forests of trees are also emerging. I knew we were getting closer.
At one point, we saw on the side of the road the remains of a church built long ago. I intensely wanted to stop and take a picture of it but there was no way we could safely stop since there wasn't a shoulder on the side of this ever narrowing road. Not much farther down the road, there was a pull off area and another stone building in ruins. All I had to do was look at Les and he knew I wanted to pull over and take pictures. As we get out of the car to explore, we see there was a bridge over a large creek that leads you up to the remains of the abandoned stone building. Niki and Zachary quickly walked down to the creek and started climbing over the boulders.
The boys and I walked across the bridge and started exploring the side of the mountain. Les walked around for a minute before returning to the van to try and pay our e-toll before 8pm (when we'd get a 200 euro fine for not paying it in time - and he made it with 1 minute to spare!).
Saint Kevin was an unruly child who went to live at the monastery near his parents when he was still young. During Lent one year, the monks sent Kevin out to the forest to pray and grow closer to God because he was still rather unruly. Saint Kevin stopped in the area called Glendalough today and stuck out his hands in prayer. A blackbird landed on his hand. Even though Kevin had a really hard time interacting with people, he had a love for animals and they had a love for him. He dared not move because he didn't want the blackbird to fly off. The blackbird did fly off but very shortly came back with material in its beak to make a nest. The bird proceeded to finish the nest and lay her eggs. All the while Saint Kevin did not move his arm but continued in prayer to God. For forty days and forty nights Saint Kevin kept his arm outstretched so he wouldn't drop the eggs and continued to pray. The blackbird fed Saint Kevin blackberries each day. The eggs hatched on the eve before Pascha (Easter) and Kevin returned to the monastery a changed man. He saw all the monks in a completely new light and his attitude towards everyone immediately changed. He was a much kinder and gentler from this moment forward.
I was reading on a website talking about the monastery in Glendalough and it was saying that it is no longer known exactly where Saint Kevin is buried around the monastery in Glendalough...but in the evening when all the tourists/pilgrims have gone home that the blackbirds like to gather on one particular grave. Without a doubt, when we visited the monastery grounds - there were a large amount of blackbirds flying around and landing all over the place.
Two blackbirds landed on the church behind and to the left of Les in the photo moments before I took the picture.